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In the Industry: What new trends will emerge from this year’s Derby series?

As May 1st fast approaches, and horse racing and the headwear industry gears up for another exciting derby season, I can’t help but wonder: what new trends will emerge from this year’s Derby series? Nowadays it is difficult to open a fashion magazine or turn on an awards show and not see an A-list actor or actress pushing the envelope with some type of new, cutting edge chapeau, but the Derby is where this tradition all started. Chances are the Derby might have been the originator of that stylish topper.

Paris Hilton tries on the perfect Kentucky Derby hat

If you don’t think that the derby events have as much to do about celebrity, fashion, and emerging trends, don’t take my word for it. Even the Kentucky Derby’s own official website shows as many hats on its home page as they do horses. There is no doubt that the stars seated on Millionaire’s Row wearing their lavish hats and posing for the camera help to sell the event as much as the actual race does.

2008 Kentucky Derby

So while we gear up for another grand Derby season, we insiders are as much a spectator as anyone outside of the headwear industry. We can only guess as to which styles, colors, and brands will adorn the stars heads. We will gaze at the beautiful large brims, and sinamay cloches, and revere in the waves of classic panama stingy brims and fedoras. When it is all over, we’ll go back to the drawing board and try to figure out what trends we predicted we would see, and where we missed the boat. We may even be inspired to go out and create a new masterpiece that will become next year’s millinery sensation. Either way, it all starts at the Derby.

Dwayne Wade


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The Jewel Of The Triple Crown Is Among Us!

Derby Season is just around the corner, bringing with it the most prestigious horse race in the world, The Kentucky Derby. Ladies and Gentleman, you know what this means. It’s time to find that perfect Derby hat for this exciting tradition, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky. Held on the first Saturday in May, the first race of the Triple Crown is by far the most fashionable of the three.

It is truly an honor to go to the Kentucky Derby. From celebrities to the Royal Family, even your next door neighbor, the Derby welcomes everyone for a once in a life time experience. There are traditional Kentucky Derby fashion rules that one should follow if you’re planning on fitting in and making the most of the experience. Whether you’re planning on sitting in the clubhouse, paddock or infield, a hat is in order. Along with that great looking hat, the men should be dressed in suits and tuxedos with a splash of bright color on the tie. Women should be dressed in spring dresses or skirts that are bright in nature, and a fabulous hat that brings the look together.

From top milliners such as Christine A. Moore and Marsha Makins, as well as our Belfry Brand Purple Label, you’re sure to find a hat to fit the Derby’s grandeur. While the Kentucky Derby is in fact a horse race, it is also an iconic event in the fashion world. The fashions you will see are timeless, chic and breathtaking. It’s a time for milliners and hat makers to shine. So much hard work goes into creating such gorgeous unique hats just for this one event. The Preakness and Belmont stakes are also big events for the milliners of the world. However, none of them seem to touch the status of the Run for the Rose! As for the lucky ones wearing the beautifully designed hats, they get to shine as well.

150,000 enthusiastic people, well dressed from HAT to toe, gather for this annual event. Whether you’re a seasoned attendee or this is your first time, be sure to make the most of it, because the Kentucky Derby is a tradition that will continue on and will always be history in the making for horse racing and FASHION!

- Ashley

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When The Sum Is Equal To Its Parts

One of the best parts about the fashion industry is the ability to turn your ideas into a finished product, and being involved every step of the way. We worked very closely with esteemed designer Marsha Makins to put together a line of hats that not only look good and feel great, but tell a story of a long history in headwear. Each piece in the collection was carefully designed to embody style and fashion that perfectly blends tradition with contemporary attitude. Each part of the hat was well-thought out, and had to fit the mold of the collection we were trying to create.

We knew only the finest bodies would do, so we decided that we had to be working with only the highest quality straw that didn’t require you (or us for that matter) to take out a 2nd mortgage on our homes to pay for it. Any good straw hat collection needs at least one or two Panamas in them. This hand woven straw is not only high quality, but has a smoother look and feel than most other straws. For the rest, we used some extremely light weight sisal, an agave grown in the Caribbean that yields naturally sturdy fibers. Sisal hats are so light and comfortable that you may forget you have a hat on your head (until someone compliments you on it, of course).

Makins has some of the most beautiful antique hat blocks around, able to create some true masterpieces in headwear. Using these blocks that were decades old, we were able to create some classic fedora shapes that you won’t see in most neighborhood hat shops. Some you may not see ANYWHERE else, because we made the crowns and brims separately, then combined for truly one of a kind looks. These fedoras had us waxing nostalgic about a world none of us have scene in our life-time, but hope to one day get back to. A time when a man never left the house without a fedora!

We asked for vintage suiting material to make bands that reflected the style of the times. Through thousands of yards of different silks, German grosgrains, and satins (some from old suit linings), we picked out some beautifully dyed bands that were over 50 years old. The more vintage appeal we could give each fedora, the better!

The result? A grouping of fedoras that can be best described as a throwback to the classics, while at the same time, blending modern thought. Truly our most imaginative branded collection to date, our Makins Vintage Derby Collection is a prime example of our commitment to delivering radically unique fashion.

- James

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